Alice in Wonderland is the new film from director Tim Burton. Tim Burton is a very funny director in the way that he's reached levels of cult-like status and I'm not quite sure why. There is this stigma about him that his movies are always amazing, weird and fantastic; that couldn't be more wrong. Burton gives us one good movie for every bad movie. For every Big Fish, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Batman or Ed Wood he's also given us Sleepy Hollow, Batman Returns, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes. There was a lot of hype around Alice in Wonderland, which made me cautious to see it. The good news is that it didn't disappoint. In fact it surpassed what I was expecting. The problem the film is going to run into is the mass confusion from everyone who doesn't know that it's NOT the original Alice in Wonderland story; it's the sequel. In fact, by not naming the film Return to Wonderland or Alice 2 or maybe even the title of the actual sequel Through the Looking Glass, they're going to create lots of disenchanted people who were expecting to see the classic Disney film but in dazzling live-action 3D. You won't...not really. What you'll see instead is a pretty creative story about Alice's return to Wonderland to clean up the mess that has happened since her last visit. This involves a storyline and action that is FAR from the traditional story. In fact maybe a better title for this would be Alice in Narnia, since it's much closer to those stories than Wonderland. But it's not all bad news. Johnny Depp gives a great performance as The Mad Hatter, Helena Boham Carter is adequate as The Red Queen and the voice over work from great British actors is well casted and fun. I especially liked seeing the insane Crispin Glover (Back to the Future, Charlie's Angels) in this as a version of The Knave of Hearts that is nothing like the character from the book. Mia Wasikowska (Defiance) plays Alice in an incredibly luke-warm, disenfranchised performance. She's so blank and vacant in this film that I almost wondering if Burton instructed her to be so since she thinks it's a dream. Either way, it doesn't work and bothered me to have a lead that apathetic. One aspect about the film that I really liked was how it was almost a film version of the Alice sequel, Through the Looking Glass. Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter has a creepy split personality that comes out where he mumbles the Jabberwocky poem in a macabre Scottish accent. This is a nod to author Lewis Carroll himself, who wrote the poem and included parts of it in the sequel. This adds a tone of foreboding to the film that feels odd at first but I enjoyed. I thought that was an interesting touch and what they did with it to make it more exciting and action-packed was well executed for the most part. Alice in Wonderland is far from perfect and relies on gimicky 3D techniques that should be reserved for theme parks, but it's fine enough to go in Tim Burton's good column. That must mean that what he does next will suck.
Alice in Wonderland (Rated PG)
Gavin Grade: B
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I was one of the lucky few to attend the premier on Wednesday. I had dressed up as the queen of hearts. I wanted to know where you would be posting the pictures from the evening, I would like to print them out and post them on my myspace. Also I thought the movie was great. I enjoyed the take on it, a continuation of the animation. Thanks for the poster!
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